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Plasticizer in new health risk

By Tim Sandle     Apr 7, 2016 in Health
Medics have connected the plastic softeners in medical tubing to neurological problems in children who have been hospitalized with critical illnesses.
The neurological problems are primarily associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is a neurodevelopmental and mental disorder, characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behaviour. It is most commonly associated with children.
The concern with plastics relates to a type of softener, classed as phthalates. Phthalate esters are primarily used as plasticizers. A plasticizer is a substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.
Phthalates have previously been linked to ADHD; as well as other health concerns like allergies, asthma, insulin resistance, and obesity. Safer alternatives are dioctyl terephthalate (a terephthalate isomeric with DEHP) and 1,2-Cyclohexane dicarboxylic acid diisononyl ester (a hydrogenated version of DINP).
These concerns with phthalates led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recommend the use of these types of plastics be reduced. In 2002, the agency requested that the use of the plastics in medical devices be phased out. Parts of the medical device sector have been slow to react.
A new study has drawn a new link between phthalates and neurological effects. In a research note, Dr. Sören Verstraete (from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium) concludes: “Phthalates have been banned from children’s toys because of their potential toxic and hormone-disrupting effects, but they are still used to soften medical devices.”
The implication is, she explains: “We found a clear match between previously hospitalized children’s long-term neurocognitive test results and their individual exposure to the phthalate DEHP during intensive care.”
The research conclusion is based on a study of 449 children who had been treated in a pediatric intensive care unit. The children were tested for presence of phthalates in their blood. Over the course of four years, neurological tests were performed and there was a correlation between phthalate levels and ADHD. The study was then repeated on a separate group of 221 children and the same effect was revealed.
These findings would suggest that the development of alternative plastic softeners for use in medical devices is somewhat urgent.
More about Plasticizer, Adhd, Attention deficit hyperactive disorder, Plastic, medical device
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